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Read Joe Durocher's response, "Issue in Desnethé riding is democracy," StarPhoenix, February 5, 2008 and Frank Tomkins' "Will Dorion ever lear?" Meadow Lake Progress and Northern Pride, February 3, 2008
The StarPhoenix, Thursday, January 31, 2008

Appointment best serves northerners

by John K. Dorion

The recent uproar over Joan Beatty's appointment as the Liberal candidate in the Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River byelection is really nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.

After our MP resigned last summer, I threw my hat in the nomination ring, and toiled for months – meeting people, raising funds and selling memberships as I criss-crossed the vast expanse of northern Saskatchewan. Had there actually been a nomination meeting in November, I have no doubt that I would have trounced my opponent – political gadfly David Orchard.

Of course I was disappointed when Stéphane Dion pre-emptorily appointed Beatty, but I understand that a leader sometimes must make tough decisions in the best interests of the party. As a longtime loyal Liberal, I fully support his choice.

Like myself, Ms. Beatty is an aboriginal person from the riding and has my full and unequivocal backing. That she was a cabinet minister in the Saskatchewan government shows that she has developed certain skills that can benefit the people of northern Saskatchewan. Her election can address a gender inequality in Parliament today.

However, I am profoundly dismayed over the antics of Orchard. Whatever his agenda, it's not one that has the interests of the people of northern Saskatchewan foremost. Nor does it help the Liberal party.

It's true that he helped Dion win the leadership of the Liberal party. But a few short years earlier, he also played king-maker at the Conservative convention and was pivotal in Peter MacKay becoming leader.

Orchard does well when it comes to picking leaders (in whatever party he happens to be in at the time), but his subsequent actions prove that he has enormous difficulty in abiding by the rules (of whatever party he happens to be in at the time). Orchard now should join the next party on his list, or failing that, start his own to keep himself at the center of attention.

During the last election, farmers at the southern fringe of this riding voted Conservative. The rest of the riding is predominantly aboriginal – Dene, Cree and Métis. We pulled together as Liberals and won by 67 votes.

It is important that we stay united and work hard to get an aboriginal person elected as our representative in Ottawa. We don’t need Orchard coming here to tell us what is best for us.

From such ground breaking policy initiatives as the Residential School Settlement and the Kelowna Accord, to strong action on the international scene in support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples, the Liberals have shown us time and again that they are the best way for us to advance.

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